Recorded in nine days on a Norwegian island New Model Army return with an album steeped in their unique sound with the unmistakable figure of Justin Sullivan leading the charge. With a more traditional sounding or should that be classic sounding New Model Army on ‘From Here’. It seems like an age when the band first announced pre-sales for this record and after releasing a couple of videos for tracks such as ‘Never Arriving’ my excitement started to peak for what the album might turn out like. With a more earthy and classic sounding arrangments, New Model Army have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into another record and the reward for the listener is twelve songs as good as anything in the band’s arsenal thus far. From the synth-laden opener ‘Passing Through’ it’s a slow burner as the intro fades and the band harks back to a feeling they first laid on audiences way back in the ’80s and Justins narrating vocal is as warm and weathered as ever and as engaging as you’d want it to be. The track, however, doesn’t open up but merely sets the tone. Maybe this is something of the mature big brother to ‘Thunder And consolation’ as the acoustic guitar midway through this six-minute epic opener links with the rhythmic drumming before the crunching heaving electric guitar joins the fray.
As far as openers go this is huge and the tone of ‘From Here’ is set. ‘Never Arriving’ is also over five minutes long as Sullivan takes us through his spoken rather than sung lyrics. The band might have chosen a bleak environment to record in but this record sounds driven and whilst complex its a record that will take some investing in. Sure fans of the band will take that time and give it the attention it deserves but I doubt Justin is looking nor cares for instant fleeting engagement. If you know you know.
There are no two-minute pop songs here rather post four minutes as a rule but the sprightly tempo of ‘The Weather’ with its acoustic strumming is a different texture to the two previous numbers the instruments weave like knotted branches so NMA yet unique and bloody good.
I’ve alluded to the fact this record for some reason harks back to the classic heights of ‘Green And Grey’ period for the band although Sullivan is the sole torch-carrier of the band these days it’s in the makeup and ‘End Of Days’ is uptempo and the first track that was released from the record and is a great addition to the catalogue of thumpers written and released by the band.
‘Great Disguise’ builds and builds as Sullivan paints his landscape in your mind’s eye whereas ‘Conversation’ is big broad strokes of that familiar acoustic guitar mixed with rhythmic drums and a story unfolds of travel and landscape earth and water. Sullivan has always done well to paint bleak and cold portraits but in a warm and engaging way it’s what he does really well and this is a great example.
‘Hard Way’ is a darker slower introduction that spends the next four minutes building up and up to layered vocals and heaving bass throb but quickly drops back something of a bloodletting before ushering in ‘Watch And Learn’ with its more aggressive thrust.
‘Maps’ is timpani and cello and maybe driven by the recordings environment with a sense of where you are captured within its tracks as Sullivan sings about his surroundings. Ending the record with the title track ‘From Here’ is eight minutes of soundscape and sparse piano before the familiar tribal drum patterns signal a rumbling Bassline but you’ll have to wait almost five minutes before an electric guitar chimes in and pierces the trance-like rhythm.
Like I mentioned earlier this might not be the record you want to make your New Model Army debut maybe lock into the best of then come and visit ‘From HEre’ and the experience will be far more rewarding. Old fans – fill yer boots this is a journey that will take you through multiple emotions pick you up and put you down but always leave you coming back for more. I’ve enjoyed thus far dipping in here and there and equally immersing from start to finish. ‘From Here’ will not dissapoint.
Buy ‘From Here’: Here
Author: Dom Daley